Magazine article American Libraries

Salinas Closures Temporarily Halted

Magazine article American Libraries

Salinas Closures Temporarily Halted

Article excerpt

The Salinas (Calif.) city council voted 6-0 March 1 to keep its three libraries open 36 hours per week through mid-June and 8-10 hours per week from July to December, if Mayor Anna Caballero's goal to raise $500,000 is reached before June 30 (AL, Mar., p. 12-13). According to the March 2 Monterey County Herald, the action rescinds the council's previous plan to keep the libraries open only one day a week. The city had voted in December to close the branches one by one this spring due to an $8-million budget deficit.

"I think it's just marvelous that they are committed to keeping this library system open in some way or another," California State Librarian Susan Hildreth told American Libraries. "There is so much community activity on many different levels to try to define a permanent or more stable funding source for the library."

But the latest action does not cancel the council's decision to lay off 33 library workers. Nine full-time and two part-time workers will be rotated among the three libraries. Shifting block-grant money used for home-work centers at the Cesar Chavez branch will fund their salaries.

As of March 3, the Rally Salinas campaign had raised $176,350 in three weeks, with 95% of the donations coming from Monterey County. Todd Leuders, president and chief operating officer of the Community Foundation of Monterey County, told the Herald that the total of 344 donations have come from as far away as Hawaii and Brooklyn, New York. The foundation has also donated $5,000 from a trust fund and more than 35 local businesses have inquired about ways to help. Mayor Caballero said she had received a $75,000 matching donation check from an anonymous Salinas Valley rancher. "We were very excited that we met the matching donation in such a short period of time," she remarked.

Not only are foundations and businesses chipping in, but the library situation also moved 8-year-old Andrea Ceja to take action. The Mission Park Elementary School 3rd-grader raised $53.28 from lemonade sales. "I made some money for the libraries because I really want the libraries to be open as long as they can be," Ceja said after delivering her money in a clear plastic bag during a news conference at Chapala Restaurant, which also donated 10% of its Wednesday sales through March to the campaign. …

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